Annual picnics and holiday parties are the norm for most companies, large and small. But a select few companies have upped the ante, by taking their employees on company-paid vacations and retreats.
Google has been on the cutting edge of this vacation policy, however over the years budget cuts dramatically changed how Google offers company vacations to its employees. What used to be a company-wide ski vacation has now become business-group based retreats.
Many companies reward their employees with similar opportunities, or leverage extravagant vacations as earning incentives, while others use destination resorts as a locale for big meetings.
Are these trips always a good idea?
Sometimes, they can bring a work force together, improve morale, and reward employees for a job well done. Other times they can be a waste of both money and time, and only aggravate employees, creating a hostile environment.
Take for example a company that has recently restructured. Nearly half of the sales force has been reduced, and the remaining staff are required to attend a four-day conference in Las Vegas in order to go over the new company structure. Significant others are not invited to attend, and the agenda is packed from 8 to 4, with mandated evening activities on the schedule. Most of the employees are hoping the company will spring for show, but instead they’re subjected to dinners with guest speakers, or team-building activities that do nothing more than bond the teams together in their distaste for the company.
Who can say ‘no’ to that?
That said, destination meetings are not always a bad idea. Work can be done by day, but be sure to allow some down time to enjoy the resort or city that you’re in.
If you’re considering a trip to a mountain resort, be sure to offer some ski time. If you’re planning a meeting in Orlando, let your employees have a night at MGM Studios or Universal Studios. Even if you’re headed to a city that’s not a destination, let your employees enjoy a night out on the town, and experience what the city has to offer. Use the time to re-energize and motivate your team.
If it’s strictly a vacation, it’s imperative that employees have at least some time to do what they want. Don’t cram the agenda full of mandatory outings. Some may want to check out local ruins, whereas others would prefer to zip-line through the forest. Still others would prefer to just lounge by the pool or the ocean, or read a good book in peace and quiet.
Make sure there’s always plenty of food, and alcohol where appropriate, along with opportunities for entertainment.
There are some logistics that need to be worked out when offering corporate vacations. Who gets invited? Can they bring a guest? What are the pay implications? These deciding factors should be communicated with your team well before the trip, especially if guests will need to pay for some of their own expenses.
If it’s an incentive trip, the details should be outlined in full to all who are eligible.
There are destination resorts, outdoor retreats and vacation venues across the globe just waiting to host your next corporate vacation. Just be sure they offer adequate accommodations both for lodging and meetings. If you are planning on utilizing the trip for work, make sure the hotel has—at the very least—a business center when you can make photo copies, print from your computer, and access to other service tools you may need.
Many hotels offer business concierge services which help ensure that the days flow smoothly, from adjusting meeting room temperatures to arranging transportation for your outings.
Corporate retreats and vacations can be a great way to bring a team together. Just take the time to examine why you are offering the trip. Set your goals and create your agenda around them. It’s always nice to get out of the office, but be sure that your employees feel they are being celebrated and appreciated as well.